Bee-eater Merops apiaster   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Coraciiformes Family: Meropidae
BTO Codes: MZ, BEEEA EURING No: 8400
Number in Britain: 38 records/year
Conservation Status:
UK: Not Assessed
European: 3 Concern, most not in Europe; Depleted
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Scarce Visitor, Has Bred
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 28 cm Wingspan: 46 cm Weight: M/F: 61 g    
Scientific name from: Gr.: merops=the bee-eater and L.: apiastra=the bee-eater (from apis=a bee)
World Distribution: s&c Europe, n Africa, s&c Asia, s Africa, WINTERS: sub-Saharan Africa, w India
Habitat: Open country, woodland, farmland
Diet: Flying insects, esp. bees and wasps, these rubbed against perch to discharge sting
TitBit: Bee-eaters require around 225 bees a day when they are raising their young; they first rub the bees on their perch to remove the sting.  
Identification Tips:
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Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: No population trend available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Passage: 38 individuals
    First Record: Norfolk, 1793
    First Breeding Record: Sussex 1955
    Conservation Status:
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 Not Assessed     1996-2001 Not Assessed  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
European Population Size:
    Summer: 280 to 600 thousand pairs   (Trend in Numbers)
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WCA(I), Bern(III), Bonn(II)
Survey Results:

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 26 x 22 mm Egg Weight: 6.5 g (of which 6 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 0
Clutch Size: 6 - 7 eggs
Incubation: 20 days   by the: Male + Female
Fledging: Unavailable as: Altricial, naked
First Clutches Laid: Unavailable
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: No data
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: Typical Lifespan: No data
Maximum Recorded Age: Too few birds ringed
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: Check with Ringing Unit
Wing Length Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data

Other Names

European Bee-eater
Gaelic: Welsh: Gwybedog y Gwenyn
Danish: Biæder Dutch: Bijeneter
Finnish: Mehiläissyöjä French: Guêpier d´Europe
German: Bienenfresser Hungarian: Gyurgyalag
Icelandic: Býsvelgur Irish: Beachadóir Eorpach
Italian: Gruccione Norwegian: Bieter
Polish: Zolna zielona zwyczajna Portuguese: Abelharuco-comum
Spanish: Abejaruco Swedish: Biätare

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